Pass Me the Pineapple Please!

Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!

I just got back from a weekend visit to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, site of a historic area that replicates the eighteenth century capital of a colony of diverse people who helped shape the new nation of America.

Walking from Merchant’s Square along Duke of Gloucester Street to the Capitol offers a pleasing sense of hospitality. Shopkeepers dressed in colonial garb smile and nod to visitors. Feeling the power of hospitality throughout Colonial Williamsburg, I was inspired to develop an attention-ology trick based on the simple concept of WELCOME!

Welcoming someone into your space, be it your home, office, classroom, or other place, is at the heart of hospitality. Here’s my new idea: Why not extend an eye-catching welcome to your students more often than just on the first day of class in a new school year. Use a special symbol to fill your teaching space with hospitality at the new year, too!

In Colonial Williamsburg, the pineapple is the traditional symbol of hospitality. Share the legend of the pineapple with your elementary school students, catch their attention in the process, and help them learn a bit of history.

The legend says that when Colonial-era sea captains returned from voyages to the tropics where fruit trees were abundant, they would hang pineapples from their front doors as a sign of welcome and hospitality. This tradition continues today, especially in coastal cities up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States. In that region, you may find pineapples, as I did in Colonial Virginia, carved into doorways and fence posts and painted on signs hanging outside of homes and shops.

Try this teaching trick at the new year: Greet your students on the first day back after the holiday by standing in front of the class holding up a fresh pineapple in your hands. Explain that the pineapple is a symbol of hospitality and define the meaning of that word in an age-appropriate way for your students. You might say, “The pineapple means ‘Welcome’ and ‘welcome’ is a wonderful way for me to say I’m glad you’re here as we begin a new year!” Then, pass the pineapple around the room so that each student feels a personal welcome.

Here’s an extra idea: After you catch the kids’ attention with your pineapple, pass out copies of the Legend of the Pineapple (You can copy the legend from my blog and insert clip art of a pineapple to add color to this social studies “lesson.”)

Another option: After you introduce your class to the pineapple as a symbol of hospitality, invite students in grades 3 – 5 to research other symbols of welcome used in countries around the world.

Speaking of welcome, I welcome your comments on my blog and hope that you’re enjoying the tools and tricks I share here.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!

Talk with you next week,

Barbara The Lovable Poet

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